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2016 Census delivers picture of Australia and predicts Melbourne population boom

Kara Irving, Ian Royall, AAP, June 28, 2017 6:00PM AP

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MELBOURNE is one of Australia’s fastest growing cities, most Australians born overseas now come from Asia and more people than ever before say they have no religion.

These new insights into Australia, who we are and how we live were revealed this week from information that was collected in the 2016 census.

On August 9, 2016, Australians were asked to complete the census and this week the first round of statistics were released by the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS).

A census is a series of questions asked to every household in the country and it is held every five years. The first Australian census was conducted in 1911.

Tram on busy Brunswick St, Fitzroy. Picture: Andrew Tauber media_cameraTram on busy Brunswick St, Fitzroy. Picture: Andrew Tauber

It provides the government and the public a snapshot of who lives in Australia, where and how they live, what they earn and believe.

The statistics reveal Melbourne is one of the fastest growing cities in Australia, with inner-city suburbs Brunswick and Richmond booming and the municipality* of Wyndham experiencing a growth surge.

This means that by 2050 Melbourne may overtake Sydney as the most populous* Australian city — with an average of almost 2000 new residents moving here each week.

Melbourne to overtake sunny Sydney in coming years. Picture: supplied media_cameraMelbourne to overtake sunny Sydney in coming years. Picture: supplied

RMIT planning expert Jago Dodson described the population explosion as like layering another city on top of today’s Melbourne, triggering questions about how the city will cope.

Professor Dodson said most growth was in the inner-city and outer fringes.

“We are not seeing comparable growth in the middle suburban zones which are best located for jobs and infrastructure,’’ Professor Dodson said.

Professor Dodson said traffic would become an even bigger problem because Melbourne was planned in the 1960s as a city for cars.

Australian statistician* David W. Kalisch said the information the census provided was extremely useful.

The growing city. Picture: Mark Stewart media_cameraThe growing city. Picture: Mark Stewart

“2016 census data provides a detailed, accurate* and fascinating picture of Australia, which

will be used to inform critical policy, planning and service delivery decisions for our

communities over the coming years,” he said.


The census reveals that Australia’s estimated population is 24.4 million people, 23,717,421 people in Australia on census night and more than 600,000 Australians travelling overseas at the time.

NSW is the most populous state, with 7,480,228 people, ahead of Victoria (5,926,624) and Queensland (4,703,193) but the ACT experienced the largest population growth of any state or territory over the past five years.

Of all Australian residents, 26 per cent of people said they were born overseas, with England remaining the most common country of birth other than Australia.

Australians enjoying food and culture from around the world. Picture: Chris Pavlich media_cameraAustralians enjoying food and culture from around the world. Picture: Chris Pavlich

For the first time in our history, the majority of new migrants are now from Asia, not Europe. Since 2011, 13.4 per cent of migrants came from India, 13.3 per cent from China, 7.9 per cent from England, 7.7 per cent from New Zealand and 6 per cent from the Philippines.

Australia is still a predominantly* English speaking country, with 72.7 per cent of people speaking only English at home.


Australia is now made up of 6.1 million families. The census found that 44.7 per cent of couples had children and 15.8 per cent were single parent families.

Residents of the growing inner-Melbourne population. Picture: Ian Currie media_cameraResidents of the growing inner-Melbourne population. Picture: Ian Currie

Christianity is the most common religion in Victoria for just under half

the state’s population — 2.8 million people, down from 3 million in 2011.

Thirty two per cent of people reported having no religion, up from 24 per cent since 2011.

municipality: area

populous: having large population

statistician: person who figures things out by looking at data
predominantly: mostly



Activity 1. Changes over time

The census tells us how things are right now and how they have changed over time.

Using information from the article, write down:

• one thing that was true in the past

• one thing that is true now

one thing that is predicted to be true in the future

• one thing that has changed a lot and

• one thing that has stayed mostly the same


Write down three questions that you would include in the census if you could and explain why you think this information would be useful to collect.

Time: allow 20 minutes to complete this activity

Curriculum links: English, Critical and Creative Thinking

Activity 2. A mini city

Data collected as part of the census helps the government and local councils plan infrastructure.

Make a list of all of the infrastructure Australians require by thinking about where we live, work and go to school, what we eat and do, how we get around, etc.

Draw a birds-eye-view of a mini city, including all of the infrastructure you believe is required for things to run smoothly.

You can compare your list and map with others to see if there are important things you have forgotten.


Choose one of the pieces of infrastructure on your list and describe the difficulties your mini city would have without it.

Time: allow 30 minutes to complete this activity

Curriculum links: English, Civics and Citizenship


(Vocabulary, Connectives, Openers and Punctuation)

Data Collection

The census is a questionnaire that was given to every household in Australia to complete. It collects information that is used to plan for the future, but it also looks at where we have come from as well. Create a 10 question classroom census to help the teacher be able to better understand who is in the grade and how to best connect with them and cater for their needs.

Extension Activity: Down-level It!

To up-level it is to make it better, to down-level it is to reduce the complexity. Re-word your questions to make them more suitable and clear for students in a grade three year levels below yours.

Time: approximately 25 minutes

Curriculum Links: English, Big Write and VCOP

Activity provided by Andrell Education –








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